Deb Sarah on Becoming a Novelists By Way of Magazine-Writing

That’s the cover of Redbook‘s May issue that featured a terrific review of The Violets of March—yay! I decided to share that today because it has to do with this week’s topic: big breaks. And, I’d like to talk about how magazines have played a role in my career so far.

It was always a dream of mine to be an author, but I didn’t know exactly how that would happen. I’d toyed with novel ideas since I was in high school, but nothing jumped out at me, and frankly, I didn’t know how to write a novel. How did one do this? So, I set the dream aside and pressed on. I put my journalism degree into practice and began freelancing for magazines, not knowing then, however, that magazine-writing would be the jump-start I would need to gain the discipline and creativity to actually write a book, and the contacts and connections to sell it.

True, you don’t need to be a magazine writer to write a book. Of course you don’t. But for me it helped immensly. It kept me disciplined (nothing like a deadline to get you writing), flexed my creative muscles (daily), and introduced me to many bookish people. In fact, the lovely author, and fellow magazine writer, Allison Winn Scotch (who I connected with while working on a SELF magazine assignment) introduced me to her agent, Elisabeth Weed, and voila—the rest is history.

So, yes, I credit magazines for where I am today—one book soon to be debuting, another one coming out in a year, and another in process. (P.S. My very first assignment was from Marie Claire when I was fresh out of college. I still have fond memories of the assignment email I received from the editor there at the time.)

What’s your favorite magazine?

xo, Sarah

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This article has 10 Comments

  1. I am a total magazine lover. I get great ideas for stories from them, but I also just love to read them! Since you mentioned Marie Claire, I will say I think they’re great – I could care less about the clothing and makeup pieces, but I always find their international stories fascinating enough to make up for the fact that I skim through half of the magazine!

  2. Oh how I love magazines. Don’t think I could choose just one favorite. Though Food & Wine, Entertainment Weekly, and New York are up there. (And you can guess which one is my favorite this month, hee! Oprah!)

  3. Sarah, I could have written this post myself. (And my first magazine assignment–at least from a mag I didn’t work for!–was also Marie Claire :)I think the discipline and deadline-driven approach that magazine assignments require help so much when it comes to completing a manuscript.

  4. When I started freelancing full-time so that I’d have time to work on my novel, I mainly wrote for magazines. I completely agree that it helps on so many different levels!

    Congrats on being featured in Redbook! I had a quick question–do you find that your connections with magazine editors has helped in promoting the book?

  5. I love Shape and Self… love Real Simple and crave the life in its pages… devoted to my Time and Newsweek fixes, tho they’ve gone downhill a bit… and Entertainment Weekly is my beloved guilty pleasure.

    People and Us are two I’d never buy… but I GRAB them when I see them in a waiting room.

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